The Supreme Court on Friday said that it will hear a plea seeking the reopen the charges against UK-based Hinduja brothers for their alleged involvement in the kickbacks in the purchase of Bofors Howitzer guns by India in the mid-eighties.
Hearing the plea of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) petitioner-advocate Ajay Agrawal, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud directed said that final hearing in the matter will begin on October 8.
Agrawal had moved the court in 2005 challenging a Delhi High Court order acquitting Hinduja brothers in the Bofors case.
In the last hearing in December 2016, the CBI had said that it was not given permission by the authorities a decade ago to appeal against the Delhi HC order discharging the Hinduja brothers — Srichand, Gopichand and Prakashchand.
The alleged corruption in the Bofors gun deal had created a scandal in the middle of Rajiv Gandhi’s term as Prime Minister in 1987 and had significantly contributed to the political discourse against his party, which lost the Lok Sabha elections in 1989.
The case was finally closed after a plea by the CBI on March 5, 2011, when a Delhi court ruled that the “hard-earned” tax-payers’ money could not be spent “on these type of proceedings which are not going to do any good to them”.
The main accused, Ottavio Quattrocchi, an Italian businessman, who had fled the country in the mid-1990s, died two years after the case was closed and charges against him were dropped. Quattrocchi was said to be close to the Gandhi family.
The case came up again before the Supreme Court in 2016 with the CBI informing it that the then UPA government led by the Congress had denied permission to it to appeal against the Delhi court order.